health

A food blogger shares her painful struggle with anorexia.

How does a one-time anorexic become a food blogger?

The first thing is to buy bigger clothes. There is no way you can celebrate making, sharing and, most importantly, eating food and be obsessed with weight. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy your food and be slim and healthy.

When you suffer from disordered eating, there is nothing healthy about you.

My eating was chaotic in my late twenties, but I am one of the lucky ones, I recovered. I have always been big boned; I’m tall, broad shouldered and I put on weight easily.

In the years following my mum’s fatal car accident, I learned that if I put my mind to it, I could lose weight too.

If you need some food for thought, have a crack at these Super food breakfast bares (post continues after video):

I never felt good enough for my mother, she was a model and beauty queen back in her day – slim and beautiful. I was too big, too loud, terrible at tennis, and loved horse-riding, skiing and singing – not her cups of tea. I knew she loved me but I felt that I wasn’t the daughter she wanted, crippling for someone who just wants to please. Then she died, and I had never made her happy.

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“I never felt good enough for my mother.”
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Our world was spinning out of control. My father had worked while mum mothered, so he had no idea what to do, and my brother and sister were 14 and 16 years old, and there was me, 26 years old, just recovered from a broken ankle, now with a freshly smashed heart.

So I stepped into mum’s neat shoes. I cooked and cleaned at home, went to parent teacher interviews, made sure homework was done and took mum’s part-time job running holiday cottages, because I had to do something, and it was available.

With the benefit of wisdom, I can see that this all spelled trouble, but I was intent on doing what mum would have wanted for the first time in my life. Living mum’s life at home and at work was not enough, I knew deep down that until I was skinny, I would never have her approval, and so in my spare time I exercised.

Not to say that I didn’t before, but I became serious about it. I ran, lifted weights, and swam with a squad – all in the name of rehabilitating my ankle. Everyone told me how great I looked and how proud my mum would have been.

Time passed, wounds healed and habits formed. Finally I was ready to go back to travelling. My family were ok to stand on their own, slightly wobbly, feet. I kept up the exercise, as
best as I could, and loved every minute of exploring Europe with friends, family and at times by myself.

My final months overseas were in France, in Courchevel, the ritziest ski resort in the Les Trois Vallee, where I drank all night and skied all day. A boy broke my heart and I could feel those familiar feelings of not being good enough come surging back.

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Image via iStock.
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Back at home, I loathed myself and exercise wasn’t enough to quiet the roar so I became vegetarian to gain control of what I ate. I wouldn’t touch carbohydrates, nor any fat. I drank for enjoyment. I ran every morning and alternated weights and swimming each night until I returned to skiing, then I skied all day and exercised morning and night. After a few months I was a size 8 and weighed just over 50 kgs.

I was sick.

Eventually dad remarried, my brother and sister went to university, ankle arthritis forced me to quit skiing and I healed enough to re-join the ranks of normality. Part of that was accepting that my eating was totally abnormal. I made a commitment to change.

As someone who has always loved food, it was surprisingly easy to take control over what I ate and think it was going to fix everything. I have always been strong, so the discipline to exercise and restrict my eating was easy. When things were very difficult, mastery of hunger pains and tolerance of heavy exertion made me feel good.

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Nicole Roache’s delicious chocolate and salted caramel tart. Image supplied.

Many years on I cook and eat for pleasure. I eat well and often, and treat myself sometimes. I still exercise every day and beat myself up when life gets in the way. But I am happy with who I am and I know that how I look is only a part of that – one that I focus on far more than others do.

My mum was a great cook and often expressed her love for us through food. I am more like her than ever now, and even though I am not thin, I know she would be proud of the woman that I have become.

Nicole was one of the short-listed writers on MWN and HarperCollinsPublishing’s 2015 Writers’ Competition.

A chef, house keeper, lover, step-mother and food blogger, that’s before she leaves the house in the morning to manage marketing and media at an independent school. Her recently established blog, www.lifesapicnic.org aims to build a community of food lovers sharing their recipes. She has lived and worked in the UK, France and Austria and has travelled widely. Nicole can do almost anything, from opera to ski instruction in 4 languages and managing media at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, so far it has been an interesting ride. She looks forward to the quiet days ahead (insert ironic smile).

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If you or anyone you know are struggling with an eating disorder or body image issues, contact The Butterfly Foundation on 1800 ED HOPE / 1800 33 4673 or email [email protected]

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